t would be hard to imagine
a field of scientific research that doesnt increasingly
rely on computational resources or data management and visualization,
yet high-tech tools are not regularly incorporated into undergraduate
science courses. To change that situation, Kris Stewart, director
of the NPACI Education Center on Computational Science and Engineering
(EdCenter) at San Diego State University (SDSU), is teaching college
professors how to offer such tools to their students. The Faculty
Fellows program, which Stewart launched in 1998, has had a major
impact at SDSU, providing financial and educational support to
as many as six professors per year to incorporate computational-science
resources into their courses.
map shows evapotranspiration in a watershed, It relied on
the Regional Hydroecological Simulation System model developed
by Christina Tague, a professor of geography at SDSU. The
data-analysis toolkit provides an interactive interface
for students in her undergraduate course, Water at the Earths
members need to know how to employ sophisticated resources themselves
before theyre ready to offer them to students," said
Stewart. "When the faculty becomes comfortable working with
the technology, and the information technology staff is trained
to support the various platforms, we will have successfully created
an environment ripe for the use of various NPACI and Alliance
applications in a variety of university courses."
The program has attracted
SDSU faculty from several colleges within the university. Fellows
are selected for one semester, but most continue for an additional
semester. They have built tools to visualize watersheds, earthquakes,
and carnival rides. Other projects have included designing entire
curricula and virtual field trips to local wetlands.
The fellows work with
the EdCenters team of educators and computer developers
to learn everything from animating PowerPoint slides, to programming
a Java interface for a geology simulation. The fellows hold biweekly
meetings called "synergy sessions" to share classroom
strategies and successes.
"Its a great
opportunity for teachers to learn new skills that will help them
be more effective in bringing computational science into the classroom,"
said Jeff Sale, a staff scientist with the EdCenter.
Amusement Park Physics
Impelluso, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering
at SDSU, and his students built a simulator on the Cray
T3E at SDSC that tested the physics of amusement park rides.
Kathleen McGuire, an
SDSU biology professor and a fall 2000 and spring 2001 fellow,
worked with Sale to develop an online tutorial to help students
learn how to use various bioinformatics databases. The tutorial
also teaches students how to use bioinformatics tools such as
SDSCs Biology WorkBench, which supports remote identification
and manipulation of protein sequences. The tool is now used in
biology courses at universities nationwide.
and online tools has become an essential part of molecular biology,
but I couldnt find the right tutorial for my students,"
said McGuire. Now, her students compare and analyze DNA and protein
sequences using the same bioinformatics toolssuch as Entrez
and Blastused by researchers.
McGuire used the tutorial
in Cell and Molecular Immunology and Current Topics in Molecular
Biology. Students appreciated learning the new techniques. "They
seem to know that they would need them as molecular biologists,"
said McGuire. "One student told me that the skills she learned
in my class had been useful to her in her assignments for other
classes. Others have used them at work."
Thomas Impelluso, an
SDSU assistant professor of engineering and a fall 2000 and spring
2001 fellow, worked on a project incorporating high-end software
and hardware into engineering design courses. Using applications
such as finite-element software, dVISE, LabView, and proEngineer
and running simulations on NPACIs Cray T3E, Impelluso and
his students built a physics machining simulator that tests amusement
have made this project their own," said Impelluso. Richard
Harris and George Rummel, SDSU undergraduates in Impellusos
classes, won the EdCenters annual Computational Science
Olympics with their simulations.
During her recent fellowship,
Christina Tague, an SDSU geography professor, created a Java interface
to an ecological hydrology research model called Regional Hydroecological
Simulation System (RHESSys). Tague wanted to help students understand
the interaction of hydrologic and ecological parameters such as
soil moisture and evapotranspiration from plants.
The program gave her
students access to a 3-D models and simulations of hydro-ecological
processes, such as stream flow and evaporation from a watershed.
"The models allow the students to see how processes work
in a way that you couldnt otherwise explain," she said.CF